By the time Jennifer catches up with the wraith, he’s already sucked dry five guards. At the sound of her voice, he turns with a snarl and is upon her in a second. As if from a distance, he can see her lips moving, but the sound is not even registering as meaningful. After all the hunger, all the isolation, the one clear thing dominating his thoughts is ‘escape’.
Her back slams against the wall hard enough to make her teeth rattle. Before she has the time to utter another word, his hand has descended on her chest. Through the open neck of her shirt, physical contact is immediate. A split second before her skin is torn open by the feeding organ, he pauses. Her words still do not seem to reach him, but somehow the pleading look in her eyes does. He tilts his head. This will be her only chance to get through to him, and stay alive.
“I’m here to help you get out. If you want to live, come with me.”
She then realizes that he may need a more accurate description.
“If you want to live free, follow me”.
His eyes are still wild, but there is a hint of recognition there. All of a sudden he lets go, and she almost falls to the ground. The combination of adrenaline and relief has turned her knees to jelly. She can’t delay though, so she checks herself and takes a deep breath.
“Come” she says, and leads the way at a run.
They are at the final corner to her lab when she motions him to stop. “Wait here” she whispers. She needs to get rid of the guard who is, as always, stationed at the entrance to her lab. The wraith does not answer, but stands still, so she collects herself and turns the corner.
“James, the wraith has escaped. Everybody needs to cover the exits” She hopes her lie is convincing. The young private seems worried about leaving his post. “Don’t worry about me,” she tells him before he has too much time to think “I’ll be in the lab and will lock the door. The wraith is looking for a way to avoid visiting my lab for medical experimentation. He’ll stay as far away as possible.” This seems to convince him and he takes off down another corridor. As soon as he is out of sight, Jen doubles back and asks the wraith to follow her.
He seems hesitant again, his eyes darting back and forth, from her face, to the walls, to the ceiling and back. Wraith have exceptional hearing. Mentioning scientific experimentation on him has put him on edge. Now he’s once again searching for an exit strategy, calculating his chances of getting out without her help, but the truth is that he does not know his way around the complex. Freedom could be at the other side of the next door, or he could keep going around in circles for hours.
“I just said those things to get rid of the soldier. You are in no danger with me.” His eyes run all over her without making eye contact. His head twitches, and it hurts her to know that she is partly responsible for his condition. He was already weak and starving when they found him in the Genii prison, but he has really deteriorated during his years on earth. She swallows the lump on her throat and continues “There is no way out. The only chance we have, to get you out of here alive, is undercover. Trying to fight your way out of this building won’t work; there are simply too many soldiers around.” He lets out a hiss and finally starts moving towards her. Relieved, she turns around and leads the way to her lab. As soon as they are inside, she closes and locks the door with her security code. Only then does she allow herself to breathe, and notices that she’s shaking.
“Ok… Ok…. Right…” She almost hyperventilates now, trying to think of the next step. The wraith is in the center of the room, looking around him, taking in all the details. It’s a secondary lab, which has been allotted to her for the duration of her time at the base. There’s an operating table, most often used for stitching up cuts after a soldier has found himself in a bit of trouble. One wall is covered by medical cabinets with various drugs and liquids. Another by cold chambers, for bodies to be kept refrigerated until they are sent to the city morgue. She had rolled her eyes a little when she had realized that they had given her the temp morgue. Then again, they were hunting a wraith. She had not expected to receive a lot of live patients. A gurney pushed against the wall by the door, her desk and some more lab equipment took up the rest of the space. There were not a lot of places to hide, except for the cold chambers. She doubts this will be very comfortable, though. “I need to hide you, until I can smuggle you out.”
He turns to face her and she has no idea how much he understands. There was a time when he was coherent, when they had retrieved him from Kolya’s prison. But that was a long time ago. SGC first, and Area 51 afterwards, had been even more cruel to the wraith than the Genii had been. Where Kolya allowed him a meal – a person, she shuddered at the thought – every now and then, the humans were not as accommodating. A few months into his captivity he had gone in a fugue, and didn’t make much sense ever since. Nobody could predict if his recent feeding would heal the psychological wounds as well as the physical.
“There are two options: The best one would be to get you in there” she points to the cold chambers. “Nobody ever opens those unless they have to. But it’s cold and... I don’t know how comfortable it would be... Or, you could lie down on that gurney over there – the one by the wall – in a body bag preferably, and let’s hope nobody is curious enough to take a look”
His face stays blank, but he slowly moves towards the gurney.
“Right then...” With efficient moves, she pulls out a body bag, lays it on the metal surface and motions him to lie down, which he does without a sound. She starts zipping it up and has gone as far as his hips when a hand, seemingly made of steel, shoots out and grabs her arm. Breathless at the fire burning in the wraith’s eyes, she can only hope that her whispered “I know” conveys what he needs. She rests her hand on his, in a gesture so tender that the surprise hits him like a ton of bricks and he sucks in a breath. “I’ll protect you” she confirms to him. “Whenever someone is in the room, you need to lie absolutely still and do not make a sound. I’ll figure out a way to get you out safely.” She hopes. Fingers crossed.
“Pray and hope... Pray and hope…” The raspy voice sounds mildly amused and far away. As he finally lets go of her arm, she finishes zipping up the bag, and throws a white sheet over the top, for good measure.